Who are you and how did you get started in blogging?
My name is Caroline and I am the creator behind Swaddles n’ Bottles, a website for new and expectant mothers. Swaddles n’ Bottles aims to make the journey through pregnancy and bringing home a new baby as little less scary for mothers. We provide guidance on labor and delivery, preparing for baby, newborn tips, advice on breastfeeding and so much more. In the 2.5 years since we have launched. We have reached over 4.3 million woman across the world and brought in over 10 million pageviews. Swaddles n’ Bottles has turned into a 6 figure business and my full-time job.
What’s the backstory of your blog and how did you choose the niche?
I started the website when my first daughter was just 3 month old. I wanted to share my journey with others and provide them with the tips and tricks I was currently using to make my life as a new mom easier. I knew that there was already a lot of mothers out there blogging about their experiences as first
At the time, I had just left my job to stay at home with my new baby. We had just gone from having two incomes to one and I was losing sleep over it. My husband and I had planned for me to only stay home for 1 year, but I knew shortly after my daughter was born that I did not want to return to work, but I also knew I wanted to contribute to the family income. More than that, I really needed an outlet. Something I was doing for me. Some way to channel energy to something other than all the demands of motherhood. I craved doing something.
For a few weeks, I wasn’t sure what that something was. I did my research on a few different business avenues but none of them really struck me as something I could be passionate about. Then I read about moms starting blogs and I just knew that I wanted to be a blogger.
During my pregnancy, I myself had spent hours reading dozen and dozens of blogs, searching for “insider information” so to speak of how to get through labor and delivery, bringing home a newborn and so much more. I instantly knew I would love to now share my first hand experiences as a mother. Plus, I had no idea there was a way to monetize blogs, but as i did more research on affiliate marketing, ads and creating products, my wheels started spinning on how I could make this work.
So I purchased my domain from BlueHost and got to work. Within 6 months, I was making a full-time income from my blog and I now make more than I ever did at any previous job I held. And even better, I absolutely love what I do. I love the freedom I have and the fact that I can still stay home with my girls. I am so grateful to have the ability to connect and help mothers all across the world.
Describe the process of launching your blog/site and getting it off the ground.
Starting a blog was foreign territory to me. I had no experience with blogging, marketing, or even building a website. I had to do a lot of research on every aspect of building a website.
I told myself that I couldn’t let my lack of experience stop me. I purchased my domain and began working. There was so much trial and error in those first few months. I created the site and began cranking out content. As soon as I was able to, I applied for AdSense and an Amazon Affiliate account.
My research told me that Pinterest was where I needed to be in order to reach my target audience. I began pinning my content and making connections with other bloggers on Pinterest in order to join group boards. More details on how I utilized Pinterest for traffic below).
Pinterest began to drive traffic to my site and I was making money within a month of launching my blog through ads and affiliate marketing. As my audience grew, I created a product that I knew many of them would love and am still brainstorming and creating more products to this day!
How do you create revenue on your blog?
My monetization strategy is affiliate marketing, ads and my own products.
Being with a high quality ad network is so crucial to a positive experience for your readers and maximum income. I am currently with AdThrive and the level of service they offer is amazing.
In terms of affiliate marketing, diversification is key. While Amazon has always been a breadwinner, don’t rule out the smaller programs. I am currently seeing a lot of success with being an Affiliate for courses that benefit my target audience.
Most recently, I began creating products for my readers. With the launch of my first one just recently happening, I am already seeing how lucrative it can be to have you own product and not just receiving a small amount of commission as an affiliate. My goal is to have a 3 of my own products by the end of the year.
What are the strategies you use to build and grow traffic to your blog?
With my target audience in mind, I knew that Pinterest had to be a main focus of mine. Afterall, that is where I spent SO much of MY time as an expectant and new mother.
But before I tapped into Pinterest, I had to create content. I did some research on what topics were the most popular within my niche on Pinterest. I had to look at what my audience was already telling me. Once I had those focus areas, I started digging into my experiences and compiled a list of posts. From there, I just started writing and publishing content.
In the pregnancy/ parenting area, it’s easy to sit down and organize your thoughts and experiences and write a high quality, informative blog post in just a day or two. I was adding a great amount of content to my blog in the beginning.
Once I had some meat to my blog, I worked to expand my reach on Pinterest. I did this through group boards. I’ve heard people say that group boards are dead and no longer vital to performance of a blog. I do not believe this one bit and my statistics show for it. I would request to join and and every group board that related to my target audience. Once accepted, I would pin my material to that board on a weekly basis. I was reaching millions of Pinterest users in my early days, even though I had less than 5k direct followers.
Once I felt like I had a good handle on Pinterest. I focused on SEO. This is a topic I would be clueless on if it were not for Hashtag Jeff. He taught me everything I know through his course and his knowledge continues to be a valuable resource today and new Google updates continue to roll out.
How do you grow your email list?
I grew my email list by offering free printables. I truly believe that they days of readers handing over their email address simple to “subscribe and get the latest” are long gone. You have to offer something that they would typically pay for for free. Once you have that point of contact and invitation to pop into their inbox, cherish it. Provide them with high quality content within a reasonable time frame. I never send email more than once a week.
I really value email automation. I use MailerLite to run my email flows. If a reader opts-in for a freebie revolving around pregnancy, they go into a pregnancy funnel. They receive a series of emails about all things pregnancy, then eventually flow into the labor and delivery funnel and then into a funnel covering newborn care. Tailoring the content to your readers is vital for converting them from just a reader to an avid follower.
How do you write content that performs well and readers love?
When I first started my blog, all content came from me. As I mentioned, I started when my first daughter was just a few months old. Shortly later, I was expecting my second child. I was, once again, my audience. I constantly reflected on what i was going through, what my worried were and how I felt. That was my main inspiration for content.
As the site grew, I knew there were more points of view on motherhood that could be highlighted and shared. There were experiences that many women face through pregnancy and new motherhood that I had not. So I opened the site up to guest contributors. I knew if I wanted to attract the best writers, I needed to pay for the content. Afterall, they were spending their time writing and sharing something of value, so why not show them I value their work.
(You can read more about how to submit content to the site here)
What obstacles have you had to overcome to start and grow your blog?
That first time I logged into WordPress was outrageously overwhelming. I watched a lot of YouTube videos in that first week just trying to wrap my head around it. And when I finally figured something out, the victory was short lived as there was about 673 other new things I needed to learn JUST about building a website. But now looking back, I think that is what has made my journey as a blogger and entrepreneur so wonderful. This was a huge challenge, completely uncharted territory, but I just knew deep down it was what I wanted to do.
Another big obstacle I faced and I know many others face is the overwhelming amount of tasks bloggers face. Writing and publishing blog posts is just skimming the surface. Here are some of the things bloggers need to think about:
- There’s promoting through your half a dozen social media channels.
- Responding to comments on posts.
- Making sure your website is technically up to date.
- Mastering SEO. Build an opt-in.
- Build and email list.
- Create an email funnel…
the list of things to do is overwhelming and at the end of the day you can still feel like you are drowning in what went undone that day.
I’ve found that writing out my tasks, objectives, and goals at the beginning of each week helps so much. I have a huge whiteboard in my office and I take a few minutes each Monday to look back at all I accomplished the last week and start a fresh list. While each day may not seem like it was outrageously productive, when I step back and look at it all, it’s compounding and I am slowly ticking closer and closer to those goals.
What lessons have you learned in the process of building your blog?
I can be such an impatient person. I have really had to re-train my brain that the road to success is a process. I’m not going to see results every day. I now understand that the small efforts I continue to make will compound over time. There is not ONE thing I can do today that will lead to all of my goals being achieved tomorrow. It’s the continuous efforts, day in and day out, that will lead to my success.
Perfect example is recently creating my product. The day I hit publish on the sales page was just the beginning and just a small part of the big picture. I needed to seriously focus on marketing and give my efforts time to reach my readers. The first sale happened one day. Then the next day, it was two sales. Then it was 5 sales. The seeds slowly began to sow. But it took time and small efforts every single day.
What platform/tools do you use for your blog?
Milo Tree– This is a great tool to grow your following on social media outlets. It has single handedly taken me to 33k+ followers on Pinterest.
Short Pixel– Site speed is so vital to create a positive experience for readers. With my focus on Pinterest, I use a lot of images on my sire. Short Pixel compresses them and makes load speed much faster.
Social Pug– With so much of my traffic being people who spend time on Pinterest, it’s important for my to make my blog social friendly. Social Pug makes it easy for my readers to share content they love with others.
WordFence– the best tool for site security in my opinion!
Canva– I make all of my graphics for Pinterest through Canva. Big plus that it’s FREE!
Tailwind– I don’t know how I would run my business without Tailwind. They recently released a new feature called Smart Loops which allows me to continuously share my content on Pinterest without having to re-pin it. Thei tribes feature is also a great way to promote your content to other bloggers in your niche.
SnapSeed– another free tool I couldn’t live without! SnapSeed is a great tool to edit your photos to make them bright and airy.
What have been the most influential people, books, podcasts, courses, or other resources?
Being any sort of entrepreneur requires a certain level of motivation and mindset. There are so many wonderful books that I contribute to helping me take challenges head on and persisting through the tough times. The Slight Edge, Awaken The Giant Within, The Greatest Salesman (yes, even as a blogger, we are selling ourselves!), The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and currently reading No Excuses by Brian Tracy.
In terms of courses, I already mentioned how much Hashtag Jeff helped with SEO. I love the Blogger Genius Podcast by Jillian Leslie, who is also the founder of MiloTree. (You can listen to my episode with her here).
Advice you can give other bloggers/entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Gosh, I could go on forever on this topic. Biggest thing I have seen recently with those I’ve been helping with blogging is that you have to write for your audience. If a blogger writes about nothing but what they do in life and highlighting how perfect their world is, no one is going to want to read that (except for maybe your grandma). I don’t care about what you ate for breakfast on Tuesday or all the details of your perfect weekend brunching with your besties. I want to spend my time reading about things that help me and interest me. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. My top performing posts are “how-to” guides that help mothers conquer some of the most common problems in motherhood. Help others and they will help you meet your goals.
Secondly, niche down. If you try to please everyone you will attract no one. There are blogs out there about acne care and how to train your dog that bring in 6 figures a year. If you are too broad, you will never be known as a master of any one subject.
Where can we go to learn more?
eBooks I’ve written on how to utilize Pinterest and maximize income with affiliate marketing:
Pinning For Pageviews
Mastering Affiliate Marketing